More than 73,000 bids on a Tennessee farm will be culled over the presence of the highly contagious bird flu virus (H7 avian influenza or HPAI). The birds, part of Tyson Foods Inc., supply chain, are the first to contract the virus in the U.S. in 2017. The outbreak also marks the first time HPAI has shown up in Tennessee, notes the USDA.
Along with thirty neighboring farms, the unnamed Lincoln County Tyson Foods supplier is under quarantine as more birds are tested for the presence of HPAI. Though the risk to humans is low, the highly infectious virus can spread to humans. Reuters reports that a bird flu outbreak in China over this winter has led to at least four deaths.
The main concern over the spread of HPAI is its ability to wipe out a massive number of birds and that forces price increases on chicken products. Tyson Foods is the nation's largest poultry producer.
“In 2014 and 2015, during a widespread outbreak of HPAI, the United States killed nearly 50 million birds, mostly egg-laying hens,” reports Reuters. “The losses pushed U.S. egg prices to record highs and prompted trading partners to ban imports of American poultry, even though there was little infection then in the broiler industry.”
The last major U.S. outbreak of bird flu infected a flock of turkeys in Indiana in 2016.
In the UK, an outbreak of bird flu last week led to the culling of more than 55,000 ducks believed to be infected. And just over the weekend in Greece, at least 60 birds on a small farm near the borders of Albania and Macedonia were discovered to be infected with a H5N6 strain of bird flu that had previously only been seen in Asia. It’s linked to the deadly outbreak in China.
Since October, millions of birds throughout 18 European countries have been killed because of the virus.
“These virus strains can travel in wild birds without them appearing sick,” the USDA noted on its website. “People should avoid contact with sick/dead poultry or wildlife. If contact occurs, wash your hands with soap and water and change clothing before having any contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds.”
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